Do you fear God?

Fear God

Do you fear God?

If you answered that question just now –
I have more questions for you.

What does “fear God” mean?

What does it mean to you?

What does it mean to me?

What does it mean to God?

How would you answer that question now?


The image at the top may be misleading.
It’s not to indicate that there’s a choice to be made between the two.
It’s to indicate that both are part of the correct answer.  It is after all, one image.
The color difference?  Oh.  That’s to indicate that while both are appropriate feelings about God – one comes from the other.


This whole thing started from a book I wrote about before – and am still reading – Christian China and the Light of the World: Miraculous Stories from China’s Great Awakening.

This is what “fear of God” is supposed to be about –

“Another emphasis is the understanding of fear. “Fear is not about number two being afraid of number one, and number three worrying about how number two will react. To truly fear God is to revere Him, to give Him respect. When we fear God, we need to recognize and acknowledge that He is greater than we are. It is humbling when we realize who He really is in relationship to us. Even Confucius said there are three fears,” he says with growing earnestness, “fear of heaven, fear of authority and fear of the word of a saint—that is, an elder’s wisdom or teaching. And we are now learning what it really means to fear God. He is the King of kings, and He is certainly higher and wiser than all of us.””


So now – the question becomes –
do we love God because we fear Him?
Or –
do we fear God because we love Him?

How you answer all these questions is totally up to you.

How I answer them is totally based on what I think God is trying to tell us through His Word in the Bible.
So, what follows is what it means to me – because of what I think it means to Him.  
My thoughts about what the Bible means by “fear” the LORD.


This whole line of thought is one that comes up frequently.  

Some have asked me – why do I even want to believe in God – let alone love Him.  Especially when the topic of “fear” comes up.  
One of the problems here is what does “fear” actually mean?
The other problem?  What does “love” actually mean?

Fear of the LORD – and loving God – they’re really hard to talk about when we don’t know what either of the key words even means!

Let’s start by defining them – from dictionary.com.

Fear 

  1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
  2. a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.
  3. concern or anxiety.
  4. reverential awe, especially toward God:
    the fear of God.
  5. something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of:
    Cancer is a common fear.
  6. anticipation of the possibility that something unpleasant will occur:
    Having grown up during the Great Depression, he had a constant fear of running out of money.

Number 4 actually got it right, as far as what we’re talking about with “fear of God”.  
It not actually about “fear” as we normally use the word.  Not at all.  Reverence is about knowing our place in relation to Him.  
But while this may also tend to lead one to a feeling of fear – it’s really not necessary between God and us.  Unless we want it to be.
The question is – how many people actually know that?  
Or maybe better yet – how many people actually believe that and think of it that way?

Love

  1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
  2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for parent, child, or friend.
  3. sexual passion or desire.
  4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
  5. (used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like):

    Would you like to see a movie, love?
  6. a love affair; an intensely amorous incident; amour.
  7. sexual intercourse; copulation.
  8. (initial capital letter) a personification of sexual affection, as Eros or Cupid.
  9. affectionate concern for the well-being of others:
    the love of one’s neighbor.
  10. strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything:
    her love of books.
  11. the object or thing so liked:
    The theater was her great love.
  12. the benevolent affection of God for His creatures, or the reverent affection due from them to God.
  13. Chiefly Tennis. a score of zero; nothing.

In this case – the kind of love we’re talking about with God is all the way down at #12.
Love for books or theater is ranked higher than God’s love for us. Amazing.  Sad.

So really – how many people really understand what a Christian means by “fear God” or “love God” — let alone even having a clue what “God’s love” for us means?

We see a progression in the Bible regarding this – even looking for God – getting to know Him – which would get us started on the road to even knowing what fear and love are about when God is in the discussion.

First –

Dt 4:29 But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Seek God with all of our heart and soul.

Just a bit later – something is added –

Dt 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

So we’ve gone from seek — using our heart and soul.
to now having love (after seeking) – using our heart, soul and strength.

Then – Jesus adds something else –

Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Why did Jesus add mind?  What happened?

This is (at least part of) what happened –

Isa 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
Isa 1:19 If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the best from the land;
Isa 1:20 but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

God wants us to use our mind as well.  And just as our heart, soul and strength – not just part of our mind, but all of it.

Conclusion

So yes – “fear” God and “love” God may sound strange together.  How can someone love the same God that they are afraid of?

Actually – like most things – it’s “easy” when you know how.  It’s “easy” when you know what it means.  It’s impossible when you don’t have a clue what it means.

When He was talking with the rich young man in Matthew 19, we see this exchange between Jesus and His disciples –

Mt 19:23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Mt 19:25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Mt 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

By ourselves – there are lots of things we cannot do.  Entering the kingdom of Heaven is one of them.  Understanding God’s word is another.  Believing His word – even more so.  We simply cannot do these things without Him.

So how do we do it?

Faith

  1. confidence or trust in a person or thing:
    faith in another’s ability.
  2. belief that is not based on proof:
    He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
  3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion:
    the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
  4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.:
    to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
  5. a system of religious belief:
    the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
  6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.:
    Failure to appear would be breaking faith.
  7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath, allegiance, etc.:
    He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.

While #3 may appear to be the first one about God – so are the first two.  Without all three – faith in God has no meaning.  Merely saying that faith is belief in God – what does that mean?  It actually means – trust, confidence & a belief that’s based on things which cannot be proved –

Heb 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

So – if you’re a Christian – and have trouble with the idea of “fearing” and “loving” God at the same time – go to Him for understanding.  He’s more than willing to “reason” with you.

If you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about – think it’s totally impossible and can’t be right – seek God, with your heart and with your soul.  He gave both to you.  His breath of life is in you.  He will answer you.  But first – you most honestly seek Him.

Then – you will understand.


image from – smallcreature2011.blogspot.com

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